The journey of my realization that I was different, had different sexual desires, began when I was aged 10, when a drugstore attendant who managed a pharmacy in my area lured me to the backroom and showed me his cock. At 10, the journey began. Fast forward ten years later, when I found myself in Calabar, and that was when the true journey began. I met Etete and my entire orientation changed.

I would like to note here that Etete will be referred with the feminine pronoun throughout the rest of this piece as those who loved him did in reality. Those of us who knew Etete and were close to her called her ‘Mother Supreme.’ And she did have supremacy over her gaybourhood, which comprised mostly of the southern axis of Calabar. She controlled the gay atmosphere and maintained some sort of order in the area. She was the sheriff. You dared not mess with any of her children friends; do it and you’d regret it.  Etete always ensured that.

Etete was a woman inside and she loved to admit it, to own it – this inner femininity of hers. She often said it takes more than a pair of breasts and a vagina to be a woman. She also believed that women are powerful. One of which she was. I remember with fondness how I once accompanied her to the then Standard Trust Bank, before the merger with UBA, and typically, the banking hall was filled and the service was slow. Mother Supreme stood at the entrance, right hand akimbo and left hand hanging halfway down his side, as though she was holding on to the strap of a handbag. She swept an irritated look around and said, “Darlene, in the next ten minutes, we are leaving this bank attended to.” And she sauntered forward to get things done. She went straight to a teller who she wasn’t even acquainted to before that day, and – believe you me – we were soon out of the banking hall in 12 minutes amid protests from angry customers queued up in the hall. I do not know what she said to the cute teller till date, but what I do know is they dated for the next couple of years. I thought to myself then: That is a woman! Mehn, those were the days.

My association with Mother Supreme gave me the orientation I still hold dear till date, some of them controversial. She was a stickler for roles, believed that Tops should be Tops and Bottoms should remain so. Playing the two roles, swinging this way and that, was not acceptable to her. Versatility confused her, and Mother Supreme didn’t like confusion. (She sneeringly called Versatiles ‘Auto Reverse’. Lol) With Mother Supreme, I experienced my first event of a gay wedding, and I observed for the first time what a true relationship is about. There were so many firsts with her. She was a romantic at heart and was not one to indulge in the sexual proclivities that are prevalent in the gaybourhood. Simply put, she was not a hoe. Lol. It was under her tutelage that I learned how to be a good cook, and she strengthened my self esteem, teaching me not to accept worthless treatment from anyone. She was like a second mother to me, the kind of biological mother I would have loved to have.

Of course, there were lots of raised eyebrows and wagging tongues which surrounded her. But she didn’t care for them. She lived. That was all she was about – living.

In those days, people didn’t care enough about homosexual acts to invest their time and energy in engineering kito traps. Kito experiences (or fried akara, as we called it then) were not rampant. So we enjoyed a lot of freedom then to express ourselves more. Slow afternoons were spent in the company of Mother Supreme and other hilarious, crazy, good-hearted and brilliant guys. I remember fondly how I’d laugh my heart out during these gatherings, generally having a good time. We would laugh and drink and eat whatever she’d cooked or made one of us cook. We would converse about everything and celebrate one another. It wasn’t always fun though. There were spats between us sometimes, but we would always resolve them and move on.

Etete wasn’t perfect but she was a good person; kind to all and a core believer in herself. Nothing you said could weigh her down. She was a fighter. She never wedded a woman, never got married, had no biological child, and didn’t care for any of all those societal expectations. Of course, there were times we would have to drag her out of her depressive states, but it was often the other way round ninety percent of the time. She was more the rock of those of us who loved her than we were of her.

A year after I relocated to Port Harcourt, I called to check up on her, only to be told by her sister that she passed on the day before in a fire accident. She was sixty-five. We all thought she was fifty. She lived that full a life.

To the late Samuel Inyang, oh Mother Supreme, wherever you are, know that your ideals still live on in the hearts of those who you imparted them to. Thank you for contributing to making me the best person I can ever be. You were in my heart then, and will always be for as long as I live.

Written by Darlene Sirilo Johnson

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  1. Mandy
    March 29, 11:07 Reply

    Unmarried at 65… Wow! Amazing. Talk about having the mind to know who you are and sticking to it against societal pressure.

  2. Dubem
    March 29, 11:08 Reply

    Mother Supreme sounds like she was a transgender.

    • Delle
      March 29, 11:20 Reply

      Really don’t think you have to be trans to fully be in tune with the female inside of you. So many of us have that feeling of someone else living inside of us but do not have the liver to go under the knife for a physical reconstruction. Believe you me.

      • Pink Panther
        March 29, 11:25 Reply

        Delle, you just exactly defined a transgender. A transgender simply has to identify with a gender that isn’t his or hers. When he or she goes under the knife to alter that gender, he becomes transsexual.

        • Delle
          March 29, 16:07 Reply

          Oh really?! I never knew that. Thanks for the enlightenment

  3. Delle
    March 29, 11:17 Reply

    Awww! What I would have given to meet such a person.
    That courage and bravado I lack, prolly would have helped me harness them. Oh well

  4. Phoenix
    March 29, 11:40 Reply

    Very touching. It’s always devastating to lose really close friends. A lot of times I wish I had the ability to pin friends on earth and keep them from the hands of death. Who wants to lose constant learning, constant laughter, constant adventure? The much we can do sha is to pen beautiful pieces like this and freeze memory in words.

    • Delle
      March 29, 16:09 Reply

      Is that u as your avatar? So much for anonymity o

      • Keredim
        March 29, 16:45 Reply

        Maybe he is tired of hiding his identity. Making a stand.

        Welcome back Phoenix.

        • Mandy
          March 29, 17:28 Reply

          Phoenix? As in Ronnie Phoenix?

    • Mitch
      March 29, 16:15 Reply

      Phoenix, change your avatar NOW!

      • pete
        March 29, 17:02 Reply

        Why? You want to hide under a moniker? Fine but don’t dictate for another. Moreover, the Internet merely gives a cloak of anonymity, I know most people behind the monikers here; people that interest me.

  5. thatinyvoice
    March 29, 12:00 Reply

    She was an awesome lady.

    *scratches head*, How long ago was this ?

  6. ambivalentone
    March 29, 12:24 Reply

    ‘She’ reminds me of a friend I made in camp and during my service year. Good cook, bossy, a head turner-dem must notice am ni, and very caring. I chop cake like die. It was quite off puting though, when I was ALWAYS invited to ‘come and see me nau’. I hate that and will run the other way.

  7. Kenny
    March 29, 12:38 Reply

    Wow. Sounds like an amazing person. That auto reverse part got me laughing. Versatiles do exist, hopefully you understand that now.

  8. Khaleesi
    March 29, 14:06 Reply

    Wow!! Mother Supreme, i hope you’re resting peacefully wherever you are, know that you touched so many hearts and minds. The kind of strength you had is extremely rare to find in these parts, you were indeed unique!

    @PP, yea, Mother Supreme most likely was Transgendered; this story short as it is, has given me some more insight into what it means to be transgendered …

    • Delle
      March 29, 16:07 Reply

      You talk like you knew her also.

  9. HERO
    March 29, 16:39 Reply

    Samuel Inyang (Mother Supreme) I grew up in the streets of Calabar, learnt the history of this Great Mother Theresa of the Efik Gay community. Maybe this got me focused &determined hence Мy 4 years & counting bond with Мy Queen B Ruby. We still believe in your teachings, we were born this way and nothing is changing that. RIP & say Hi 2 Мy Moda In-law Late Okoh Effanga.

    • daleen
      March 29, 20:00 Reply

      i was shocked at Okoh’s death too. i didn’t know the details. only found out via his Facebook page. that babe was a role model oh! RIp. i used to call her my big sis.

    • Ruby
      March 29, 21:09 Reply

      Awwwwwwww!!! Boo!!!!
      I learnt from the strong and confident ones!!!!

  10. Tobee
    April 03, 12:49 Reply

    Nice to read about people confident enough in their identity to be true to themselves. I’m glad for those whose lives were touched by Mother Supreme’s.
    With regards to his(/her ?) being transgender; sometimes I think the line between being transgender and being an ‘extremely’ effeminate gay man may be very blurred, especially with the gender play in gay cycles.

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